Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Final Tatau

"Everything's got a moral, if only you can find it."
- The Duchess, Alice in Wonderland

So is it just me or has there been a lot of sandbox games set in tropical island paradises lately? From the top of my head, there's Banoi (Dead Island) and Panau (Just Cause 2) - although I'm pretty sure there's a lot of other titles out there.

Far Cry 3 is no different. It takes the player to a pirate-infested Asia-Pacific archipelago called the Rook Islands (which seems to be inspired by a hybrid of Polynesia and Southeast Asia). The first thing that players would likely notice (after the crazy introduction) is how alive the island seems to be. Besides the graphics (which is nothing to scoff at), players would notice that life on Rook Island moves on without the player's intervention - among other quirks, patrols roam around and get into skirmishes with the natives and wild animals hunt both local fauna (and humans, if they have the chance - which happens more often than one might think).

The game tells the story of Jason Brody, a privileged American thrillseeker who ends up getting captured by pirates (along with his friends) due to an ill-advised decision to skydive over the island. He manages to escape, although he'll spend a lot of time trying to rescue his friends and find a way to escape, while unlocking many of the islands secrets in the process. Insanity is one of the game's major themes, and one could expect pretty weird (and disturbing) things from time to time - it doesn't help that Jason ingests psychoactive substances every once in a while, voluntarily or otherwise.

Hunting and foraging plays a major part in the game. The resources from these activities help the player craft different things - from healing herbs to hunting implements and inventory upgrades. It should be noted that hunting could go either way. One moment you're stalking a pack of deer, the next you've got tigers on your tail and you're running for dear life, only to run into a crocodile when you try crossing a river.

The game is played in a similar fashion to many first-person shooters while at the same time providing players the option for a stealthy approach - which rewards players with varying amounts of experience points. These experience points are used to purchase skills, which provide Jason either with additional ways of dispatching enemies or passive bonuses to various gameplay aspects. These skills are presented in the form of tatau, which progressively adorns the player's arms as they go along with the game.

Far Cry 3 is an incredible time waster. There are so many things to do that are designed to waste time - collecting relics, clearing out pirate outposts and capturing radio towers (to reveal maps) are just some of the things to do between missions. Simply exploring the island isn't as boring as other sandbox games - players are given the option of using jeeps, cars, boats, skis and hang gliders, among others at their disposal.

Word of warning though - Far Cry 3 earned an ESRB rating of Mature for good reason. Without giving out spoilers, please don't play the game with minors around. Or at least not the story missions.

All in all, Far Cry 3 is one of 2012's more solid titles and a very strong contender for Game of the Year. It's definitely a must-play for folks who like sandbox games.

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